Gillian Flynn is back, sort of, with a short haunted-house tale to fill the gap between her next release. Given the success of her previous books it’s no wonder she’s taking her time.
Following in Flynn’s usual gritty style, The Grown Up opens with our unnamed narrator, a hand-job specialist turned fortune-teller; carpal tunnel and all.
One day, a rich upper-class woman named Susan enters the shop looking for a palm reading. It’s intended to solve deep-lying family issues involving her teenage stepson.
Our narrator sees a killing to be made and offers to cleanse the house of any bad will. However, Susan’s stepson proves to be more of a menace than first suspected.
Full of twisting narratives and a penchant for purposely confusing the reader, this reads a lot like a spin-off to Gone Girl.
Using her bleak perspective and witty black humour, Flynn creates a likeable down-on-her-luck character that’s only looking to make a quick buck.
The tension is generated when the scripts are flipped, and you’re questioned into whether or not you’re supposed to root for this soft-core worker who could possibly be blamed for the breakups of several marriages.
The two main characters, the narrator and desperate Susan, are both credible; however, I found Susan’s stepson Miles to be a pretentious prick. I guess this is the point, but he also felt a little too smart for age.
It’s the main character’s grimy lifestyle that offers all of the intrigues here. The ghost stories that are partnered with Susan’s house don’t feel at all threatening or even realistic to the story. This begins to diminish the plot, as I was confident that possession wouldn’t be the man outcome of this one.
Flynn, nevertheless, is excellent at creating uncomfortable situation and conditions for her characters to squirm in; The Grown Up is no different.
Overall, I did enjoy this short story, even if there’s a lot, and I mean a lot, of misdirection.
It gets to a point when you don’t know which way is up, but that’s also part of Flynn’s charm. As with Gone Girl, you never quite know who’s who, and which of them is telling the ultimate truth… Probably none of them.
Given that The Grown Up can be read in an hour, I would recommend picking it up to take with you on your next commute. For anyone who’s clamouring for Flynn’s future release, use this to keep you going.